So what’s with all this nice weather, Rochester? It’s looking as if we’re going to have a fall season to enjoy, after all. Last year, we skated straight through my favorite season and snow was falling before the curtain had closed on good old Hallow‘s Eve. That still might be the case this year, of course. It’s Upstate New York, so who knows? But we’ve got to live in the moment and harness the power of the present, right? So for now, I’ll bask in the glory of this sunny 75 degree Saturday in my t-shirt and shorts, and be grateful for the bountiful harvest before us.
Wednesday commemorated the XXth birthday of the person who’s taught me the most about life, living and happiness in this world — my lovely, beautiful and kind-hearted mom. Since we’re pretty much the same person, I love shopping for her, but this year, I decided to focus my efforts more on creating something unique and personalized than on buying a single keystone present.
Gift baskets have kinda become my thing, and I think I can attribute it to my mom’s stylistic influences. My mom always taught me that with wrapping, presentation is everything. To this day, she still spends hours upon hours creating gift masterpieces, wrapped with everything from twine to cellophane in preparation for the mother of all gift-giving days, Christmas. And it’s worth the effort. It’s the minute before diving into the open box that brings real joy — the excitement, the anticipation, the possibility — that split second in which the giver and the receiver get to share a special moment of the gift-giving ritual together. Also it just makes everything look nicer when it’s wrapped up pretty.
The first quote, which spanned across three gourds in the front, was my favorite: “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant” (Robert Louis Stevenson). I wrapped wheat crackers in crimson floral scrapbook paper, with a quote about family: “The love of a family is life’s greatest blessing. In family life, love is the oil that eases the friction, the cement that binds us closer together and the music that brings harmony” (Eva Burrows). The quote on the cheddar and blue cheeses read, “Cheese is milk’s leap toward immortality” (Cliff Fadiman) and the hot pepper jelly had paper leaves and a “Spread the Love” tag covering the label. I included some funky earrings from Zak’s Avenue with a paper bird and the quote, “Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint on can” (Danny Kaye). The wine bottle tag read, “[People are like wine — some turn to vinegar, but the best improve with age” (Pope John XXII). The card read some simple words of wisdom I love, “Life is what you make it. Always has been, always will be” (Grandma Moses).
I’d been nervous about how everything would come together, but as I carefully started to assemble the basket of love, I knew the vision I’d mentally sketched out was, like the harvest itself, coming to fruition. As Future Husband, my parents and I sat down to a lovely dinner for the birthday celebration, I realized how perfect life can be. You simply can’t beat good food paired with good company. I tried to take in every moment, as I devoured the caprese salad with local heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil my mom had grown; butternut squash, roasted hazelnut and Gorgonzola salad; roasted potatoes, parsnips, garlic and onions and grilled portabella mushrooms.
As I soak in my last autumn before I become a missus, I’m trying to see the forest for the trees, nature’s bounty for its prosaic beauty (and deliciousness) and the people I love for, well…for how wonderful they really are. T’is the season for appreciation after all, right? So I guess I’m on the right track.